the friday5 for March 28, 2014

There is a lot of big news this week so I had to prioritize and cut a few things I would have loved to talk about (but may be able to include in a future Friday5) so if there's something happening that you're excited about this week, please leave it in the comments! I hate having to pick and choose on a good news week.

1. Veronica Mars. Yes, again. I had to put this one in because I haven't had a chance to write a reaction to the film now that I've seen it. Twice. And yes, it was equally awesome both times. I loved it. I do think it is more appealing to fans of the show than a general movie audience, but that's why everyone should just watch the show and then see the movie! I am thrilled that it did so well considering how few theaters it was in and I don't even know what the digital results have been. This Kickstarter Backer is extremely satisfied. The movie was pitch-perfect with the VM snark, humor, romance and cameos the fans have come to know and love. I relished every minute of it, and I'm so happy that I also have the digital download (and a blu-ray on the way) so that I can watch whenever I feel like it. Sequels please!!

2. Veruca Salt is reuniting and it feels so good. This news is a few weeks old, but again, I haven't had a chance to report on it. Veruca Salt has been one of my top ten bands since I first became a fan back in high school. It's spiteful chick rock done oh so right and I can't tell you how many times I've listened to American Thighs and Eight Arms to Hold You. The prospect of two new tracks has me so very excited and I can't wait to listen.

3. What is up with the all big March finales? I remember a time when TV event style finales all aired in May, but with season lengths varying and the way seasons are released shifting (like with PLL), being aware of when a show's final episode for the season is airing has almost become a full time job. For example, I watched the final episodes of both Girls and Brooklyn 99 this week without realizing I was watching finales until after they were over. Was this public knowledge somewhere? At least I know that both the season finale for The Walking Dead and the SERIES finale for How I Met Your Mother are just around the corner. So I guess this means finale season is officially underway. What are you most looking forward to?

4. Louis CK is hosting SNL again. I am not an avid viewer of SNL, but Louis CK hosting is all the excuse I need to tune in. Like most episodes of the sketch comedy show, there were hits and misses the last time CK hosted, but the hits were glorious and I'm really hoping they learned from past mistakes. And his monologue is bound to bring the LOLs. Yes, I just said that.

5. This week's pick for Noteworthy YA (and my final Veronica Mars recommendation for the day) is The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line, which is out this week by show creator Rob Thomas and co-author Jennifer Graham. This book is an all-new (not a movie tie-in) continuation of the canon VM universe post-movie, co-authored by the same man who first brought Veronica to life on the small--and then big--screen, AND for the full Veronica Mars effect, I just found out that the audiobook is narrated by Kristen Bell. Seriously, it doesn't get better than that.

From Rob Thomas, the creator of the television series and movie phenomenon Veronica Mars, comes the first book in a thrilling mystery series that picks up where the feature film left off.

Ten years after graduating from high school in Neptune, California, Veronica Mars is back in the land of sun, sand, crime, and corruption. She’s traded in her law degree for her old private investigating license, struggling to keep Mars Investigations afloat on the scant cash earned by catching cheating spouses until she can score her first big case.

Now it’s spring break, and college students descend on Neptune, transforming the beaches and boardwalks into a frenzied, week-long rave. When a girl disappears from a party, Veronica is called in to investigate. But this is no simple missing person’s case; the house the girl vanished from belongs to a man with serious criminal ties, and soon Veronica is plunged into a dangerous underworld of drugs and organized crime. And when a major break in the investigation has a shocking connection to Veronica’s past, the case hits closer to home than she ever imagined.

In Veronica Mars, Rob Thomas has created a groundbreaking female detective who’s part Phillip Marlowe, part Nancy Drew, and all snark. With its sharp plot and clever twists, The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line will keep you guessing until the very last page.

(Summary from
I only just received the email from Amazon that my copy has shipped so I don't have it in my eager little hands yet, but I might just go ahead and download the audiobook as well because as much as I'm happy to have a physical copy on my shelf. I don't think I can pass up the chance to hear Kristen narrate Veronica and the gang for me. Like the film, this book probably isn't the best jumping in place for non-Veronica Mars fans, but if you're a Marshmallow already, you will want to check this out.

Happy weekend!

pretty little recap: the night she (almost) died

4.23-4.24 Unbridled, A is for Answers
And we're back. After a botched recording of last week's episode, I'm back this week to recap the last two episodes of season 4b! A lot went down in these two so we'd better dive in lest we find ourselves buried alive! (How's that for topical PLL humour?)

Freaking out is what they do best. Photo credit: ABC Family

Pretty Little Highlights

1. Jason is back! Too bad I don't remember much about Jason's storyline after so long, but I've always preferred bringing back old characters to introducing news ones. So I'll call this a highlight.

2. Travis is no substitute for Hot Caleb, but I do really like the guy and hope he can somehow stay on the show even after Hot Caleb returns next season (!). He is good boyfriend material for someone, just not Hanna. Or Emily. Let's not go there, PLL.

3. Emily and Hanna searching the bedroom in their wedding gowns. I think they could have done more with this, but it was pretty funny seeing them flail around in those giant skirts.

4. Paige and Emily are officially on the outs and yeah, for me, this is a highlight. Now that Ali is back, I'm curious as to where the relationship between her and Em might go, but I think I'd prefer to see Em with someone more worthy of her time. You know, someone who isn't emotionally abusive or tried to drown her.

5. Hanna and her cookies. Love her. 

6. Shifting into finale territory, really, Ali's entire story was a highlight for me so I'm not going to break it down. I loved seeing all the old faces and as someone who needs things to be neat and orderly, I liked seeing the flashbacks to that fateful night all laid out in chronological order. Of course, that's assuming you believe Ali. I think in this case, I do. But I do still have a lot of questions about that night...

Pretty Little Mistakes (a.k.a What Aria Did)

1. Aria. Tartan dress. Yeah. I think that covers that.

2. The contrived charity fashion show storyline. I feel like this is just another one of those tropes that teen dramas use to get the main characters all together in one place in gorgeous clothing and then, drama ensues. Sure, there are a lot of similar tropes that I'm okay with (I've spoken before of my love of the theme dance), but the charity fashion show always feels extra contrived.

3. Spencer going into the woods when a) she's wearing a wedding dress and b) she was scheduled to walk the runway momentarily and c) why do these girls keep thinking it's a good idea to wander into the woods like that?? That said, I totally called the fact that it would be some part of her bridal outfit that got caught in the bear trap on account of her not screaming bloody murder when it happened.

4. The Spencer drug storyline needs to end. Now. Can we please move into Season 5a without its extra baggage? Thanks.

5. Oh Ali. You're not the smartest of the liars, but really, with everything you did the night you died, now that we get to see it all play out, it's no surprise you got a whack to the head. Why does nobody on this show ever just ask for help with anything? I get being scared, but come on, you're making it so much worse.

6. Do I even have to point out the fact that Mrs. D burying her own daughter is possibly the biggest mistake anyone in Rosewood has ever made? But I still don't understand if she did it on purpose or by accident or what. But there were an awful lot of hints that she was protecting someone else... another child perhaps?

Pretty Little ZOMG WTF?!

1. The finger bones in Spencer's corset belt thing. Holy crap! How did she not see those when she put it on? Like, what really happened out in the woods? Cause Spencer looks way more banged up that I would have thought...

2. So we now know that Mrs. D is the one who put Ali in that grave (or... was it even Ali?). We know she was concerned about something earlier in the evening too, when she was on the phone. Perhaps another child escaping from Radley? Maybe. We know a lot of blonde girls who look similar were involved. We know a lot of these people are known liars. So where does that leave things? Still pretty up in the air, but I do feel like we're getting closer.

3. The biggest ZOMG WTF moment of the night was, of course, Ezra getting shot. But what was he doing there in the first place? And is he going to live? (I'm thinking yes.) Whoever did the shooting is clearly athletic and dangerous. The body type looked like a man, but it's hard to say for sure. Hanna sure did look like a BAMF with that gun though! My pulse was definitely racing throughout the confrontation.

4. And for our final scene we have someone (the same someone who shot Ezra?) dragging a knocked out (dead?) Mrs. D into an open grave before shoveling dirt on top of her. Ruh oh. Things aren't looking good for Mrs. D. Maybe she, like everyone else in this town, should have spilled her secrets while she still could...

And that's it for Season 4b! That seriously flew by. I'm not sure when Season 5a is set to debut, but it'll probably be close to when I go on mat leave, which means potentially more timely recaps...or at least more timely viewings. The reaction post is another story, but I think it'll be doable. Hooray!


pretty little recap: nowhere to hide

4.22 Cover For Me
Things are still tickling along at a slower pace this week, but I have a feeling it's building to something big. That's how PLL tends to do it and I have faith they'll continue to raise the stakes. But with PLL, even a relatively slower episode is full of quality entertainment...

Such a sweet, intimate moment for a one night stand... Photo credit: ABC Family

Pretty Little Highlights

1. Aria continues to impress. She's more laid back than we've seen her in ages and her clothes, while still not exactly "mainstream" aren't half as bizarre as they usually are (at least until she returns to Rosewood, then ick). Free spirit, recovery-mode Aria seriously isn't half bad. I've said it before and I'll say it again, this season has me liking her. Mostly. And her hot fling was kind of adorable in a hope-they-used-protection kind of way.

2. The Hanna and Emily dynamic duo. With Spencer and Aria both off in their own states of rehab, it's up to Emily and Hanna to take care of business. Love Hanna's sassiness as always, but Emily was spot on in this episode too, confronting Ezra and digging into the whole Crazy Mona stitch. 

3. Ali's mom is surprisingly crazy. Yes, we have officially been thrown on the mom-as-A train, which always colours perception of anyone on this show, but more often than not, it's a mislead. Mrs. D's comment about fresh sheets was just weird. And the whole situation that happened while Hanna was on her date was super sketchy. I don't think Mrs. D is the killer (cause Ali = alive or not, somebody died...), or even A, but she is up to something (more on this below).

4. Do the liars' SOS texts remind anyone else of the RALLY messages they used to send on Ghostwriter? Bit of an aside, but hee :)   (And seriously, Spencer's mom, you don't know what SOS means? Remind me to never hire her lawyering skills.)

Pretty Little Mistakes (a.k.a What Aria Did)

1. The Spencer drug storyline is getting old. Seriously, she's too smart for this. I know it's not unheard of for overachieving high school students to go down a bad path, but we've seen many times before that Spencer puts her brain ahead of her emotions. Any drug storyline with her is unlikely to have ever been this explosive. And really, I don't know what she's so worked up about.  A mandatory vacation with extra time to sleep? Piles of dirt in the bed side, it sounds pretty good to me. 

2. Hanna's many boys. It's not that these boys aren't adorable and charming (and sure, mysterious, but who isn't in Rosewood?), but for reals, Hot Caleb needs to come back stat. Ravenswood is cancelled, so what's he still doing there anyway? (as an aside, I do hope we get a mini wrap-up of how Ravenswood would have ended if we'd been able to see it with our own eyeballs.) Also, I feel bad for Travis. Can we maybe hook him up with Aria instead?

3. Flying to NY to return an advance? It's probably because I work in publishing and no better, but the way the industry is portrayed on TV is always frustratingly inaccurate. Haven't these people heard of mailing cheques? Online banking? Did Ezra show up at the publisher's HQ with a sack with a dollar sign on it filled with singles?

Pretty Little ZOMG WTF?!

1. Aria told Ezra to leave town. And she meant it. I never thought I'd see the day. Of course, now that Ezra is all mysterious and interesting, I don't want him to leave town! I have a feeling/hope that this isn't over.

2. Mrs. D in Spencer's room! What the hell??? At first I thought Spencer was hallucinating again, except that she didn't see her, only the viewer did, so seriously, what is up with that woman? Creepy. 

3. What's with the wedding dress? I didn't see the preview for next week's (I guess this week's) episode so no spoilers please, but I can't think of anyone who is poised to get married.... Hmmmmm....


the friday5 for March 7, 2014

First up, the Pretty Little Recap is a bit delayed this week (but there will be one! probably on Monday) because I haven't had a chance to watch the episode yet... no spoilers please, I've heard it's really good (which, natch, it's PLL). That said, there are lots of exciting things happening in the pop culture world this week so let's talk about a few of them, shall we?

1. You guys. YOU GUYS. There is but one week (less than one week for me) to go until VERONICA MARS THE MOVIE hits the theaters and--AND--in case you haven't heard, it will also be hitting the inter-webs and such at the same time for your home viewing pleasure. This is (almost?) unheard of, for a film to be making this kind of global debut and I hope it pays off. I really do. Because I want there to be more VM movies for me to consume. I already have my tickets for the cinema (for two shows--an early one on Thursday, March 13th and then again on Saturday, the 15th) so I will be enjoying it on the big screen. My Kickstarter reward includes the digital download and Blu-ray/DVD combo, but for me, it's still really important--and really exciting!--to see this one on the big screen. I will probably be writing a little review of the movie after I see it, but for now, let's enjoy these newly released clips from the film. I could not be more excited for this.

2. Have we talked about Reign? No, we probably haven't. Well, we're going to talk about it now. When it was first dubbed as CW's answer to The Tudors, I thought, surely it wouldn't end up being that similar, and yet....

RIGHT??? It's like a younger, opposite-gender, mirror image! But really, the surprising commonality between these two series is their raciness, despite their disparate target audiences. I suppose that's just a sign of the times, but Reign has been pushing boundaries above and beyond what other CW shows have done before. And I for one think it's kind of awesome. Maybe I just love a good scandalous storyline, but given the huge crossover audience of most YA offerings, it makes sense that things would eventually move more in this direction. And as for the younger viewers, I'm a firm believer in "teens can handle it" and "if parents are concerned they should take an interest, be aware of what their kids are reading/watching, and then talk to their kids about it openly and honestly". So  yeah. If you like a good scandalous, sexy, historical drama, Reign is a younger, hipper, possibly more historically inaccurate companion to The Tudors.
Also, this:
Marie de Guise: Mary may be Scotland’s Queen, but I am its King.
Catherine: Has Scotland noticed that its King has rather overexposed breasts?
Marie de Guise: It is beginning to.
3. Catching Fire is out today! Having only seen the film once in theaters (such is the life of a parent of a toddler), I am very excited to pick this one up on Blu-ray and enjoy it a second time. Plus, deleted scenes and extras! I just need to figure out if any retailers are selling a collector's edition that comes with a bonus homicidal monkey muttation I can call my own :)

4. Lousy Smarch weather. March is a weird month. It's good because it brings us closer to spring, but it can also be just as nasty as January and February (at least up here in the great white north) or rainy and slushy and miserable. Plus, it sometimes has a long weekend in it and sometimes doesn't, thanks to the ever-shirting Easter weekend. The years it doesn't just make the wait for the font of hope I call April and May seem even longer. So when those years come around, I make myself a long weekend (usually not coinciding with March break, though this year it does). I am very excited to be heading to the cottage for, yes, more snow, but at least some fresh country air and an extra day off on Monday. It's not much, but in the middle of a long winter, it's something. I highly recommend the impromptu March "long weekend", unless you get the whole week off for March break. In which case... I am scowling at you. But not really :)

5. This week's Noteworthy YA is the follow up to a book I featured on the blog a while back. Cured by my agentmate, Bethany Wiggins, is the second in a duology that began with Stung, and I'm going to share the covers for both because they look AMAZING together:

Seriously? How gorgeous are they? Stung is so pared down and then Cured seems to promise something miraculous and otherworldly. Just lovely. Here's what book 2 is all about:
Now that Fiona Tarsis and her twin brother, Jonah, are no longer beasts, they set out to find their mother, with the help of Bowen and a former neighbor, Jacqui. Heading for a safe settlement rumored to be in Wyoming, they plan to spread the cure along the way--until they are attacked by raiders. Luckily, they find a new ally in Kevin, who saves them and leads them to safety in his underground shelter. But the more they get to know Kevin, the more they suspect he has ties to the raiders. He also seems to know too many details about Jacqui and her family—details that could endanger them all. For the raiders will do anything they can to destroy the cure that would bring an end to their way of life. Bethany Wiggins’s reimagining of our world after an environmental catastrophe won’t fail to stun readers. (Summary from
Excitement, adventure, and environmental accountability--this book has the whole package :) If you haven't already, make sure you check out Stung and then, hooray, you can move right along to Cured! Everybody wins!

Happy weekend!